March 23'rd to April 5'th 2013
Saturday, March 23rd
This is really slow-travel. I start by train from Aarhus at 1.45. It’s a 2½ train-ride to Esbjerg. Then there’s a short walk to the harbor and the ferry for Harwich.
I arrive at the ferry way too early for departure. But there is total chaos down there. Due to low-tide you can’t use the normal walkway, but has to be driven to the cars entrance on the ferry – Dana Sirena – and walk aboard from there. All this mean we are an hour late as we leave Esbjerg.
But on board at cabin 6123 everything is fine. This is a nice way to travel. No hassle, decent food in the café, and the just back to the cabin – turn out the light – and enjoy the trip with views to the oilrigs we pass on the way.
Sunday, March 24th
It’s pretty windy, but it’s tailwind, so there’s no the trip is nice anyway. But it does give us a lot of speed so we arrive in Harwich as scheduled.
Here I start on a pretty complicated train-ride. First a local to Mannington. Then another train to London – Liverpool Street Station. Then underground to Euston Square, and a short walk to Euston Station. I just reach a Virgin-train bound for Glasgow, but get off in Preston. And then a final local train to Blackpool North. You do get decent use of your rail-card today.
From Blackpool North, it’s a short walk to my hotel – The Moore’s. But anyway I do get lost, and have to ask 4 times before I find Banks Street and is checked in to The Swans Suite.
Finally it’s time for a walk in freezing Blackpool, where I have arrived way out of season. I grab some food and take a walk in the local area, passing Blackpool Tower that. It’s lid up – in pink.
Monday, March 25th
Blackpool is the second largest tourist city in England. Only London see more visitors. People go to Blackpool to get entertained and because of the nice promenade. The number of “amusement-halls” is enormous. Most of it is kitsch – but I have to check it out.
I start at Blackpool Tower. It’s close to my hotel. First you have to stand through a film before you head for the lift and the top. It’s extremely windy today, and a guy from the tower is measuring the wind at the top. He is not happy, so they close for access just as I am up there. Those there get the chance to see the great views – but no one else this morning.
Down again I check the building where the tower is located. There’s a great Ballroom, and a guy is playing the Wurlitzer-organ. I number of pretty old people has taken in the dance-floor and is waltzing around. It’s probably not an attraction, but pretty cool anyway.
Now I head out to the windy promenade. There are 3 piers along the Promenade – North, South and – surprise – Central. But most of them are in a bad shape and look really run-down. But for some reason I like places like this, and with horrible weather and nearly no other people – I think this is great. Down at the end you will find “Pleasure Beach”. That’s an amusement park full of Roller coasters. But “The Big One” is closed due to the wind – and when you can’t get “The Big One” – what’s in it then?
It’s another 4 km walk north now, back to Blackpool North and my cozy hotel stinking of cat-piss. Later it’s time for a steak and a pint at a local pub.
Tuesday, March 26th
I start the day with what the other inmates call “a proper breakfast”. This includes eggs, champignon, tomato, bacon, sausage, hash browns and toast. And then I have skipped the Black Pudding and the beans.
So I’m ready to get out again. First a short walk to North Pier. It hasn’t recovered much since yesterday, but at least they are working on it. I’m pretty much alone on the Pier. In summer there would be hundreds of people here. From here I go to take the new Blackpool Light rail to Fleetwood, at the other end of the line. I check out this slightly boring city, before returning in a couple of hours.
In Blackpool it’s time for a proper lunch and a powernap at The Moore’s. Later another walk around Blackpool North and its pretty uninspiring center. Dinner is bought and brought back to the hotel, and in the evening I watch Montenegro play England on the TV in my simple but pretty comfy room.
Wednesday, March 27th
I am leaving Blackpool North at 9 am. And now I know the way. Change of train in Preston, and then directly to Birmingham. From New Street Station a short walk to Hotel Britannia. A very unfriendly girl at check in gives me my room key to room 611.
Then I’m out into Birmingham – second largest city in England. This is old industrial area, and Birmingham is what it is, due to the many canals around here. They were good for transport. So first thing is to walk for the canals. There’s a tour boat on one of them, but there’s an hour for next trip, so I start to walk along the canals instead.
Not far from the tour boat you’re in industrial area. It’s still in use, but many of the buildings are not as nice as they could be. I like areas like this – it’s not very touristy – but it’s very exciting. And it’s a good area to take pictures as well. I take a long walk along the canals – this is much more fun than the tour boat.
Further out it starts to get longer and longer between places to leave the path along the canal, so when an opportunity turns up, I make it a day – and leave for the highway above. Then it’s back to Birmingham Center, and a hotel nap.
Later a walk in the local area. Some town planners seem to think that the center of Birmingham must not be anything else than shopping. Its shopping malls only interrupted by shopping malls. This is not my kind of thing. So I head back to the hotel and a pint in the bar and an overcooked dinner in the restaurant.
Thursday, March 28th
This morning I start out at Moore Street Station down below the shopping malls. It’s a nice and old-fashioned railway station – much nicer than the neighbor of New Street Station. There’s even an old steam train on display.
The trip today takes me to Stratford-upon-Avon – hometown of William Shakespeare.
I start out with 3 local museums on a William Shakespeare rendezvous. The most interesting is the guy’s birth home, where audiovisual equipment tells the story about him. Then there’s Nash House where he died in 1616 and there’s Hall’s Croft, where his daughter Susanna lived. The last one is the nicest house.
But now I move on to today’s highlight. I have ticket for Royal Shakespeare Theater’s performance this afternoon of Hamlet. Though the language is a bit weird and hard to understand, I do get some of the story. It’s about a guy – Hamlet – that can’t get the job he wants (King) and the girl he wants (Ophelia). Then he gets crazy and wants revenge. Finally they all die. Shakespeare is not known for his happy endings. The whole thing takes about 3 ½ hour, so there might be a thing or two I have missed.
Finally a stroll through the city and back to the railway station. I return back at my cute station in Birmingham below the ugly shopping malls. But one good thing they have – cheap places for eating. I take use of that, before my evening pint at Harvey’s bar at the hotel.
Friday, March 29th
A busy day for the tourist. I start at the “living museum” called Birmingham Back to Backs. The British National Trust has put some old slum-apartments up as a museum, with a very talkative tour guide. It’s pretty exiting though 1½ hour is a bit on the long side. Maybe Les could use a little less time explaining. On the way back I pass the huge and absolutely terrible shopping mall Bullring. There are so many people shopping today, that they have to queue for the escalators.
Later a short visit at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I’m not here to see any paintings, but a special exhibition called Metropolis, shopping how different artists see the future megacities. That’s pretty interesting.
And the day ends with the highlight of this trip. At 5 I take the train from Birmingham to Derby. I’m heading out for Pride Park where my favorite team Derby County takes on Bristol City. It’s action from the first minute. First yellow card is after 20 seconds and 2 minutes into the game Derby is awarded a penalty. That is poorly missed though.
But Derby is way better than the poor side from Bristol, and take home a comfortably 3-0 win. It’s really nice to see my favorite team playing live for the first time ever – I have been a fan for almost 40 years – and nice to see them win as well. Then it doesn’t matter that it is freezing cold with temperatures around zero degrees. And even though the match is not the most important 24.000 people has turned up for the game.
Back on the train – and very much to my surprise – I find out that I’m not the only Danish fan going from Birmingham tonight to see the match. Pretty weird.
Saturday, March 30th
All citizens of Birmingham seems to be shopping today. I do something different. I take bus no 5 to Sarahole Mill. It’s an old watermill, located in the area where J.R.R. Tolkien was raised. First thing to do, is a walk in the local area known as “The Shire”. Well – it’s not all like in The Hobbitt – it’s more like a local park to be honest. But it is said that Tolkien found his inspiration here as a child – and there is no one to contradict it. The same goes for the windmill, where the Miller’s son inspired The Orgs – so he has been a nice little fellow.
The Mill has just been renovated – in fact it is opening again today. It’s an exciting place, and the mill is running and actually producing a little bit of flour. When the mill is done I take bus no. 6 back into city. It takes some time. Traffic in Birmingham is jamming. Roads are in poor condition and everyone is going to the city for shopping today.
Trip no 2 is a long walk. It takes me to the Jewellery Quarter, but since all Jewellers are closed as I get there – it’s the walk through the city that is interesting. Birmingham is the Jewellery center of England, so a lot of shops selling jewellery is located in the area.
But walking out there is nice, passing more industrial area and canals – some of it in pretty bad condition – others parts nicer – but all interesting – and no shopping at all.
The evening is at the hotel doing nothing.
Sunday, March 31st
Last day in Birmingham. I sleep until late – mainly because we are now on summertime – despite the freezing temperatures. I check out at 11, but leaves my luggage at the hotel for a while. It’s football-time again, and even a match some will find bigger than Derby County vs. Bristol City.
At Villa Park Aston Villa is taking on Liverpool. I take the train to Witton, and after some hassle I get hold on my pre-booked ticket , before heading for my seat behind one of the goals. First half is pretty equal, and Aston Villa can consider themselves lucky to be 1-0 up at half time. Especially Suarez missed some good chances. But in the beginning of second half Liverpool equalizes.
Now you can see the difference between the two teams. Liverpool is way better, and get the 2-1 goal from a penalty so obvious that we could see it all the way from down the other end. Seven Gerrard scores, and minutes later he is back on his own goal line, doubling as a keeper and saving at great Villa chance. Liverpool professionally take the game home now. The crowd is disappointed, but they know they’ve lost to a better side.
Then it’s back to New Street, pick up my luggage, back to the station again and board a train to Bristol. In Bristol I take a taxi to The Washington. It’s a nice little hotel in Clifton above the city. My mistake I have booked a room with no bathroom. We get that sorted out, and gets another room for a small surcharge.
Now out for dinner. This will be the best meal of the trip at the local buffet restaurant called Cosmo. They have delicious food from all over the world. I stick to China – and of course some of the great desserts on top.
Monday, April 1st
Breakfast is down in the basement, like a typical British guesthouse. Then I take a bus to the railway station, and then a train to one of the most English of English cities – Bath. This is a very classic city with a few spectacular sights.
The first one is The Roman Baths. The Romans build them around some natural springs when England was occupied about 2000 years ago. They are interesting, and there’s a nice audio guide to take you around. After this it’s time for a visit to a local pub for lunch and the end of a football game on the TV.
Then I continue uphill towards The Circus. That is 30 symmetric houses build around a roundabout. Then a visit to Assembly Halls, where the rich people met in the old days
Finally down the hill again for a visit to Bath Abbey from the 15’th century. This completes todays tour. I head down to the railway station and back to Bristol.
My evening walk is in my local area Clifton. I walk to one of the sights of Bristol – the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It is crossing the river Avon, and looks very pretty here at sunset. Brunel started to build it in 1836, but he died before it was completed. Dinner is picked up at the local Tesco, and is not nearly as good as yesterday.
Tuesday, April 2nd
Today I’m heading for Stonehenge. First I take the train to Salisbury, and then a bus to Stonehenge. Stonehenge is one of the places where you think “What the fuck…” when you see it. “Why did they do that?”. Most of the stones were brought here from Wales some 5000 years ago. Sailed on boats on a river – and drawn by men for the last stretch. Then they were placed in these strange circles on the top of a small hill. It doesn’t make sense.
Experts are guessing that it’s either a holy place or some astronomical think – a sun clock or something. All others just think it is weird – but spectacular. I take a walk around the circle, using my audio guide to tell the story and tell about the theories. But it is an impressive place.
On the way back to Salisbury the bus passes Old Sarum. I get off and take a look at the ruins of what once was a giant castle. It must have been spectacular 700 years ago. Back in the 11’th century Willie the Conqueror lived here. If he used the pub on the other side of the road, I don’t know – but I do – for a lunch and a pint.
Finally I’m back at Salisbury. It was built as Old Sarum was torn down. There’s a nice church in Salisbury, but they ask for 6 £ in “donation” to get inside, so I stay outside. Finally a walk through the city, a visit to a bookstore, a cup of coffee at a pub. You can stay outside today – the weather has improved dramatically.
Then I head for the train back to Bristol, and bus no. 6 uphill to Clifton. It takes some time. The traffic-jam in Bristol is impressive.
Dinner and a coke is picked up at a local supermarket, and is eaten at room 49 together with tonight’s champions-league match between PSG and Barcelona.
Wednesday, April 3rd
I have always wondered how to eat my English Breakfast in the morning – in which order. So I have looked for help on the Internet. There seems not to be a right way to do it, but I use this recommendation – especially the thing with eating the things you don’t like at first. For me that will be tomatoes and mushrooms.
"I usually gobble up the mushrooms and tomato first because I dont like them and prefer to eat them first just to get them out of the way. Next go the baked beans topped off with lots of salt. Then the sausages suitably cut up into small chunks dipped into the soft runny yolk interspersed with slices of bacon (has to be well cooked and crisp, hate soggy bacon), further interspersed with toast slathered with lots of salted butter, mopping all all the egg white and then finally using the hash browns to mop up all the juices, baked beans sauce on the plate......I am actually drooling. Damn you!"
After this, it’s time to take a closer look at Bristol. I walk down town, because it’s downhill. From the center I follow the harbor to the major attraction in Bristol – the SS Great Britain. It’s a nicely restored steamer from 1843. It functioned as a transatlantic luxury ship for 43 years, before taken in as a transport ship for troops instead.
Luxury on board is so and so. And there’s a difference whether you were a 1st class passenger or a 3rd class. The traditional audio guide tells about life and death on board, on a 60 day trip to Australia. The captain – by the way – committed suicide on the trip. And honestly – I prefer Dana Sirena – despite that the saloon is not nearly as nice as it is on SS Great Britain.
I continue into Bristol. It’s not a city full of sights but nice anyway. I do find a place that I think should be a sight, but is not mentioned in any brochures. It’s the Saint Peters Church, that was bombed during WW2, but has been left standing in the shape it had after the war. I walk around the canals, the streets with hopeless traffic and also take a look at the shopping-center Cabot Circus. You can say a lot of nice things about England – but not about their shopping malls. They are terrible.
Then I head back to The Washington on bus no. 8, and a break for the rest of the day. It’s my last evening “on tour”, so I pamper myself with dinner at Cosmo.
Thursday, April 4th
Last day in Bristol, and I have time for a visit to Bristol Zoo. I admit it – Zoo’s is a fetish for me. I often think they are fun, relaxing and has good photo opportunities. The one in Bristol is within walking distance from the hotel, so I go there from the morning. A take a look around and takes some pictures of the penguins. As we all know – England is famous for its penguins.
Then I head back for the hotel, only interrupted by lunch and a pint at a pub.
At Washington I order a taxi Temple Meads – the railway station. Too much luggage for the bus. I arrive exactly late for a train to London, but that’s no problem. There’s another one in 30 minutes. I arrive at London Paddington at 4, take the tube to Liverpool Street and the Stansted-Express to Stansted Airport.
The last night is booked at the supercool Radisson Blu. It’s way better in style, comfort and room-size than any other hotel on this trip. There’s a strange “chair” in the room. It’s hard to get down on it – and even harder getting up again. The hotel restaurant is too expensive for me, so I head for the arrivals hall in the airport and the Burger King there. A burger is brought back to room 1127, before I see Bengalore beat Mumbai – we are talking cricket now. Later it’s Tottenham vs Basel – and that is real football.
Friday, April 5th
Wake up call at 4.30 – and then through the worst airport in the world – Stansted Airport. We take off at 7, and land in Tirstrup 1½ hour later. Then into a bus that takes me back to Aarhus.